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Lucy Shah Mohamady: Westfield Local Heroes 2019

Respect for people and food drives volunteering initiative

Community Service Connect Trust
Aroha. Generous. Practical

Raised on a small farm between Gisborne and Wairoa, Lucy Shah Mohamady grew up with a keen sense of communal sharing and respect for the origins of food.

“Just as each person has their whakapapa or ancestral lineage, so does each type of produce,” says Lucy.

In Auckland, she found it strange to witness hunger and isolation amid abundance.

So, as a Maori Muslim drawn to the charitable morality embedded in both cultures, she found it natural to start a solution: Community Service Connect, a trust that coordinates initiatives toward better life-outcomes for Auckland’s urban poor.

In one of its initiatives, Lucy and other volunteers recover surplus food which they use to cook meals that they distribute to people in need. They also distribute surplus clothes, toiletries and other essentials.

When handing out the food and other items, the volunteers make a point of connecting with homeless people in a meaningful way.

Lucy feels humbled to be voted a Westfield Local Hero. “The vote makes us, as a team, very excited for the people we help, because it’s for them.

“If people are vulnerable, we help them within our capacity,” says Lucy. “We don’t turn anyone away, whether they have a home or not, whether they have a job or not.

“I have always been a volunteer. My heart drives me. I am always busy trying to find practical solutions to make things easier for people.”

Lucy makes a point of listening carefully to the needs of people, and the trust’s next initiative will be a small enterprise-creation programme that will help empower members of Auckland’s homeless community to move beyond dependence.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.

Community Service Connect will invest its grant in a refrigerated van, which will help to keep recovered produce fresh.

The van will also give the trust access to more donor companies. “The logistics for perishables are complex,” says Lucy. “Donors need us to have the van so that everything stays super-compliant with food safety legislation.”

__For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here. __

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